Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
My longtime online comic book buddy, Drew, who I've know since 2002, wrote in with a question that was really less of a traditional question and more like him noticing something pretty interesting and him wanting me to check his math, as it were, to see if what he believes to be true actually IS true. He was very confident in it, he just wanted to see if maybe I saw something that he was missing. As far I can tell, though, Drew, you're spot on.
So, let's take a look at whether Robin actually appeared in more comics than Batman did during the Golden Age!
For the sake of this discussion, I'm counting the "Golden Age" as being 1938-1950. You could easily argue that it should extend to 1956, but I think it's cleaner this way and, let me just give you a preview - the extra six years wouldn't make a difference in the conclusion either way, so why bother?
Batman, as you all know, debuted in Detective Comics #27.
Counting that issue, he was a solo hero for eleven issues in total and then, in Detective Comics #38, there was a rare case of over-the-top cover hype that might actually be true, as Batman introduced us to the sensational character find of 1940, Robin the Boy Wonder!
Batman appeared in Detective Comics #27-154 (through December 1949).
Okay, right around the same time that Robin debuted, Batman got his own comic book series titled Batman.
Batman appeared in Batman #1-56 (through December 1949).
Batman also appeared in World's Best Comics #1...
Which took on the new name, World's Finest Comics, with the second issue...
Batman appeared in World's Finest Comics #2-43 (through December 1949).
Batman was a member of the Justice Society of America, but he was an honorary member. He only made appearances in All-Star Comics #7...
and All-Star Comics #36...
His image was featured in a few issues in a "roll call" segment where he is listed as an honorary member, but we don't count that as him actually appearing in the comic, do we? I don't think so.
Okay, so that's eleven issues of Detective Comics before Robin ever existed and then two issues of All-Star Comics without Robin appearing in them, as well. So Batman has a 13 issue advantage over the Boy Wonder in terms of appearances in the Golden Age. That's a fairly noticeable lead. How would Robin possibly be able to make up such a lead?
Well, we have three words for you. Star. Spangled. Comics.
First off, let's recap.
Robin appeared in every issue of Detective Comics from Detective Comics #38-154.
He appeared in Batman #1-56.
He appeared in World's Best Comics #1 and then World's Finest Comics #1-43.
However, in late 1946, DC Comics gave Robin his own feature in Star-Spangled Comics with #65!
Robin starred in the solo feature through Star-Spangled Comics #99 (through December 1949).
However, let's hold up a second. Robin obviously appeared in all of Batman's stories, so surely Batman appeared in some of Robin's stories, too, right?
And sure enough, Batman made a number of appearances in the Robin feature in Star-Spangled Comics!
Batman appeared in the introductory issue, #65, and he also appeared in #66-67, 69, 72, 85-96 and 98.
So that left Robin totally solo in #68, 70-71, 73-84, 97 and 99.
That means he was solo in 17 issues.
Batman was without Robin in 13 issues.
So yes, amazingly enough, Robin appeared in four more comic book issues during the Golden Age than Batman!
If you extend the Golden Age into the early 1950s, Robin's lead actually GROWS, as his feature continued for another 23 more issues or so, of which Batman was only in a few of them.
Pretty amazing stuff, right? Great find, Drew!
If anyone else has a comic book question (or if you just want me to verify something cool like Drew did), drop me a line at email@example.com!